Book Review: Swallows and Amazons

Rating: ★★★★★

The four Walker children camp alone as on an island for the summer holidays, and experience (among other things) unsupervised camp life and exploration, sailing by night, a pirate war, unfair accusations of crime, and a real robbery.  This is a delectable story of camping and adventure, with a healthy dose of children’s make-believe adventures mixed in with genuine danger.  Part of the charm of this story is in the details: what the children eat at their campfire, how their mother designs the tents they live in, the specifics of their sailing gear and the way they hang a lantern from a tall tree for a lighthouse.  Lovers of the outdoors and lovers of details will especially enjoy the books.

Not only are the stories interesting and fun, but they have many positive values.  Without being bossy, the older children take responsibility for the others; they are respectful of adults and loyal to one another.  They work hard to maintain their camp, gathering firewood, keeping everything neat, and bathing every morning as a matter of course.  All of the children’s adventures take place outside of the supervision of parents, but under their authority, and there is a refreshing lack of antipathy toward parental involvement in the plan.  They are on their summer island with permission, living in tents their mother sewed in anticipation of their father’s approval of the plan, eating provisions she has supplied.  When Mother brings a picnic one morning her arrival becomes a festal occasion, and another time when she invites the younger daughter to spend the night on the mainland, the daughter refuses, then watches Mother’s departure with tears in her eyes.

Truly, the parents are extraordinary in their trust that the children will be safe on the island alone, but the children’s character proves this confidence to be well founded.  Many children will aspire, not only to the almost outrageous (in our day) level of autonomy the Walkers enjoy, but also to the level of character that allows them to enjoy that freedom without betraying trust.

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Publication Information: Ransome, Arthur. Swallows and Amazons. Swallows and Amazons; . 1930. ISBN: 0099427338.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 08-12, Amblesideonline, Book Tree, Books Children Love,, Honey For a Child's Heart, World Books That Show
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Posted on April 7, 2009

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